If you weren't already totally freaked out about the food supply given all the recent recalls and studies coming out about bacteria in our meat and veggies, here's a new curve ball moms in particular are going to have to contend with ... The dairy industry, feeling the pressure of the war on obesity and feeling threatened by many schools' ban on high-cal chocolate milk, has decided to begin making more low-calorie, "milk-like" beverages with artificial sweeteners. They think replacing sugar in flavored milk with aspartame (aka Equal) or sucralose (aka Splenda, which was discovered when scientists were working with DDT) will help them compete with diet sodas. Good times!
But wait, it gets freakier ...
The FDA says that if aspartame is added to milk, it can't be called "milk." Instead, it has to be labeled "reduced calorie chocolate milk." But the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) aren't fans of this idea and recently petitioned the FDA to change this clause, because they say our kids won't drink anything labeled "low-calorie."
OMG. This is no better than the tobacco industry trying to duck and hide the FDA's regulations back when we still weren't completely aware as Americans that cigarettes were bad for us. It sounds like Big Dairy is doing everything they can to sneak carcinogens into our kids' lunch boxes! (Then again, vegans would argue that milk itself is cancer-causing, but that's a whole different Pandora's box ...) Thank goodness over 116,000 individuals have signed on to a Sum of Us petition that urges the FDA to "forbid milk and dairy products to include aspartame or other artificial sweeteners."
Well, even if the dairy industry gets their way, the good news is that they MUST include these artificial sweeteners on the ingredient label. That said, this is just a perfect example of why kids have to start learning young to read what's in the food they're eating and to know what's not okay.
My 4-year-old niece is gluten-free for genetic/health reasons and reads boxes and knows if a product is okay for her to eat. Likewise, kids should know to steer clear of a drink that sports toxic chemicals like aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame potassium, etc. And while easier said than done, allowing kids to have small to moderate amounts of sugar -- the real deal -- would be so much better than letting them go to down on the chemical-laden garbage the dairy industry seems hell-bent on handing them.
How do you feel about artificial sweeteners? What about it being added to milk in a sneaky way?
Image via liz west/Flickr